The book of Joshua tells the stories of a few people like Caleb and Rahab. And at times we are surprised with certain realities, like Caleb being 85 years old and still having the strength of his youth. Or that Caleb is NOT mentioned in the New Testament and is NOT a part of the genealogy of Jesus, and yet Rahab the prostitute IS. Both are great examples of people of faith.
The book also has a story of a not-so-faithful character named Achan, who took some of the spoils of the battle of Jericho. It caused the defeat and subsequent deaths of some of Israel’s soldiers when they faced their battle at Ai. God punished the people and Achan for his sin, and then God blessed the people with victories once again.
The rest of the book is battles, conquests, division of the land by tribe, provision for the priests and then at the end some farewell speeches from Joshua.
Just as the book of Genesis shows God as the Creator and giver of life and purpose, and as Exodus shows God as the Redeemer of his people, Joshua has a bigger picture theme regarding who God is and what He does.
The book of Joshua presents God as the faithful keeper of promises.
Intro to the Book
The book opens with God recalling his promises to Joshua. It began with GOD doing the following:
- Calling Joshua to be His spokesperson and leader for Israel
- God reminding Joshua of the promises He made to Abraham
- God encouraging Joshua to trust and obey and watch God work
Joshua 1:1–9 || 1 After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’s assistant: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. 3 I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will be from the wilderness and Lebanon to the great river, the Euphrates River—all the land of the Hittites—and west to the Mediterranean Sea. 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you. 6 “Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. 7 Above all, be strong and very courageous to observe carefully the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. 8 This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. 9 Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” [CSB]
This introduction is saturated with the promises of God. “I will”, “I have”, “I will not”. Each time, God reminded Joshua of the promises He made and that He intended to keep those promises.
POINT: You can count on God to keep His promises! You may often find your self in a situation where you are uncertain, but that is what faith is for. We can have faith in God because we KNOW He is the faithful Promise Keeper.
Ending of the book
At the end of the book, as Joshua was preparing to “go the way of the whole earth” (which means what? – to die and be buried), the book ends with Joshua recounting the acts of God and demonstrating that God has kept his promises.
Remember the Promise Keeper
Chapter 23 records a speech Joshua gave to the people:
Joshua 23:2–3 || 2 So Joshua summoned all Israel, including its elders, leaders judges, and officers, and said to them, “I am old, advanced in age, 3 and you have seen for yourselves everything the Lord your God did to all these nations on your account, because it was the Lord your God who was fighting for you. [CSB]
Joshua 23:6–8 || 6 “Be very strong and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left 7 and so that you do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not serve them or bow in worship to them. 8 Instead, be loyal to the Lord your God, as you have been to this day. [CSB]
Joshua 23:9–11 || 9 “The Lord has driven out great and powerful nations before you, and no one is able to stand against you to this day. 10 One of you routed a thousand because the Lord your God was fighting for you, as he promised. 11 So diligently watch yourselves! Love the Lord your God! [CSB]
Joshua 23:14–16 || 14 “I am now going the way of the whole earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the Lord your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed. 15 Since every good thing the Lord your God promised you has come about, so he will bring on you every bad thing until he has annihilated you from this good land the Lord your God has given you. 16 If you break the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods, and bow in worship to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly disappear from this good land he has given you.” [CSB]
Joshua quotes the very words God spoke to him at the beginning of his leadership journey. Joshua has been living on the promises of God for many, many years – and not even ONCE has God failed to keep his promises.
The Two Promises:
There are two promises mentioned, or at least two main categories. The Good promises of God and the Bad promises of God. The Good promises are the partial fulfilment of the covenant made to Abraham. The bad promises are a threat to bring harm on the people if they become unfaithful (THAT we will see in the book of Judges).
NOTE: There was never question about God keeping His promises. The real question is if the Israelites will keep their promise to God!
Joshua is very clear about God’s position – He is a Promise Keeper!
Joshua 23:14 || 14 “I am now going the way of the whole earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the Lord your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed. [CSB]
Joshua tells the people how they should respond in verse 11:
Joshua 23:11 || 11 So diligently watch yourselves! Love the Lord your God! [CSB]
This should be our response today. Not a response of fear and things I have to do, but a response of love and intentional living for God.
Be a Promise Keeper
In chapter 24, Joshua calls the leaders of the nation to present themselves before God. This was a covenant renewal ceremony. During this ceremony, the people presented themselves before God, listened to God’s words, and were asked to act on what they heard:
Joshua 24:1–15 || 1 Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem and summoned Israel’s elders, leaders, judges, and officers, and they presented themselves before God. 2 Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the region beyond the Euphrates River, led him throughout the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave the hill country of Seir to Esau as a possession. “ ‘Jacob and his sons, however, went down to Egypt. 5 I sent Moses and Aaron, and I defeated Egypt by what I did within it, and afterward I brought you out. 6 When I brought your fathers out of Egypt and you reached the Red Sea, the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen as far as the sea. 7 Your fathers cried out to the Lord, so he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea over them, engulfing them. Your own eyes saw what I did to Egypt. After that, you lived in the wilderness a long time. 8 “ ‘Later, I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived beyond the Jordan. They fought against you, but I handed them over to you. You possessed their land, and I annihilated them before you. 9 Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, set out to fight against Israel. He sent for Balaam son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. Instead, he repeatedly blessed you, and I rescued you from him. 11 “ ‘You then crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. Jericho’s citizens—as well as the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hethites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites—fought against you, but I handed them over to you. 12 I sent hornets ahead of you, and they drove out the two Amorite kings before you. It was not by your sword or bow. 13 I gave you a land you did not labor for, and cities you did not build, though you live in them; you are eating from vineyards and olive groves you did not plant.’ 14 “Therefore, fear the Lord and worship him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord. 15 But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.” [CSB]
Did you see all of the times God reminds them of His faithfulness? WOW! Have you ever wondered why God had to remind the Israelites so many times of the things He had done? How often do you and I need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness?
God keeps His promises. God is faithful. His ways are not our ways and His timing is often not our timing, but his faithfulness endures forever.
Psalm 119:90 || Your faithfulness is for all generations; you established the earth, and it stands firm. [CSB]
For God, keeping promises is simple. He cannot NOT keep a promise because that would be against his very nature. God IS faithful, and he always has been and always will be. His promises are true:
2 Samuel 22:31 || 31 “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. [NLT]
Because God is a Promise Keeper, we can know for sure what He says about us is true. All that He promises comes to pass. We can trust Him. Joshua called the people of God to a renewed commitment: [a COVENANT]
Joshua 24:14|| 14 “Therefore, fear the Lord and worship him in sincerity and truth. [CSB]
NOTE: It is not a question of whether we will worship something. We are created to worship and we prove every day by our actions and thoughts what we worship: God, self, money, work, toys, you get the idea. In this passage, Joshua says, “Worship God”. And if you choose not to, then you can decide if you are going to worship with Egyptian gods (which could not save the Egyptians from Yahweh’s power) or the Amorite gods which were also defeated by Yahweh.
And then he explains his position with God, regardless of what the nation decides:
Joshua 24:15 || 15 As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.” [CSB]
That call to commitment is the same for you and me today.
Today we celebrate communion [a COVENANT], where we are reminded that through the sacrifice of Jesus, we can have a restored relationship with God.
- If I confess & believe I am restored to God (1 John 1:9)
- Though Jesus Christ I have eternal life (Romans 6:23, John 3:16)
- I AM a child of God! (John 1:12-13)
- God will never leave me! (Heb 13:5)
- I have God’s Spirit in me! (John 14:16)
- As we celebrate communion today, we are presented with a similar scenario of the Israelites. We are reminded of the amazing ways that God has kept his promises to us, and we have the chance to declare our allegiance to Him and being faithful to Him.
- let’s focus on God as our Promise Keeper and spend our time thanking Him for the promises He has made and how they have changed our lives.
The people’s response was, “We will serve the Lord!” Regardless of how you may have failed at this in the past, or how you might be struggling with this in the present, with God, we can start fresh with a new commitment to follow Him.